Sunil Kumar

Chicago Booth's new dean: Victim of predecessor's success?

February 28, 2011: 10:50 AM ET

Sunil Kumar, Chicago Booth's new dean, faces the danger that the business school will rest too heavily on laurels largely earned by his predecessor.

Sunil Kumar, Dean of University of Chicago's Booth School of Business

Sunil Kumar, 43, the new dean at Chicago's Booth School, faces the unenviable challenge of filling the shoes of an immensely successful predecessor.

By John A. Byrne, contributor

( -- Nearly two months into his job as the new dean of Chicago's Booth School of Business, Sunil Kumar sits in an office with a bird's eye view of the dramatic fa├žade of the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on one side and an architectural masterpiece by Frank Lloyd Wright on the other. Everywhere, snow is piled high, evidence of a brutal Midwestern winter.

Inside his expansive rectangular corner office, the beige walls are still blank, with not a single picture frame or painting on them. Most of the bookshelves are empty, even though Kumar's official start day was Jan. 3. If he has made little time to move into his new home, it's completely understandable. Kumar, 43, has one of the toughest leadership jobs in academia: he's following the most successful business school dean of this generation at a school that has never been in better shape.

He succeeds a dynamic visionary, Edward "Ted" Snyder, who left the school with a brand new $125 million state-of-the-art building as well as the richest endowment in its history -- $511 million, a sum that excludes a $300 million gift Snyder brought in from alumnus David Booth in 2008. The Booth pledge alone is the largest single gift ever made to a business school as well as the largest donation to the University of Chicago in its history. More

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